Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Asset Forfeiture law passed by the county legislature expands the power of the police and district attorney to seize peoples assets and enter into forfeiture proceeding against them. Many articles have been written about Asset Forfeiture and the abuses within the system. Although we are all outraged when we hear about those abuses what is rarely reported is that the police, district attorneys and legislators all believe they are justified. They have created a legal framework for abusive governmental behavior and then hide behind the law they created to justify their actions. District Attorney Hoovler’s office has indicated similar laws have been passed in 15 other counties in New York with no abuses being reported. Abuse of power is defined as ‘malfeasance in office’ or ‘official misconduct’. So this claim of no abuse is other counties is a fallacy 1) just because we don’t hear about abuse doesn’t mean it is not happening and 2) because a legal framework has been set up, any abuse is justified through the law.
Furthermore, the law itself is abusive. The drug laws this bill references are already governed by both state and federal criminal statues. Those laws provide for both criminal (incarceration) and monetary penalties. This law expands those penalties to both seizure and forfeiture of ones assets for minor crimes. But rather then the due process afforded to a person in a criminal court, these proceedings take place in civil court where one is not afforded the same rights. In most cases guilt is assumed and one has to prove their innocence. The Law itself is abusive, giving unlimited power to the DA and Police to impose additional penalties far above and beyond that of the law, while using the new law by the legislature to justify their actions. Power Corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. We have seen this abuse throughout the country, lets not bring it to Orange County.
Neil J. Meyer
Town of WallKill, NY